Arkansas v Missouri

Arkansas made their statement to the committee: we stink

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Arkansas isn’t just bad on the road this season.

They’re awful.

They entered Tuesday night’s game at Missouri 1-7 in the SEC in road games. Those seven losses came by an average of more than 13 points. They lost by 21 at South Carolina. They lost by 18 at Vanderbilt. They scored a combined 103 points in those two games. The one road win the Razorbacks do have? At Auburn.

Missouri, on the other hand, is quite similar to Arkansas. While they struggle on the road, the Tigers are awesome at home, which is why is should come as no surprise to you that Missouri smacked the Razorbacks around during their visit to Columbia. What is mildly surprising, however, is that Arkansas didn’t even put up a fight. They were lost 93-63. They were down 48-22 at halftime. It was an embarrassment — or a statement, depending on which side your loyalties lie — especially when you consider the fact that Mike Anderson’s tenure at Missouri came to an abrupt end two years ago.

Anderson was booed lustily during the game. I have a feeling that Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers took just that much more enjoyment out of Tuesday’s mollywhopping.

Here’s the thing that just doesn’t make sense: Arkansas was playing for their tournament lives. Thanks to the win over Florida last month and the win over Kentucky last weekend, the ugly status of fellow bubble teams meant that Arkansas still had a chance to play their way into the dance. Winning on the road against the second-best team in the SEC would have been a great way to make a statement to the tournament selection committee.

They want teams to separate themselves, and given the fact that Tennessee losing to Georgia and Ole Miss losing to South Carolina and Mississippi State in the span of a week hasn’t come close to eliminating them from the bubble conversation, it shouldn’t really be that difficult to create that separation. Boise State did it when they beat Colorado State. Creighton did it by beating Wichita State. Cal did it by beating everyone over the last six weeks.

And Arkansas?

They did it by losing by 30 points at Missouri.

That’s the easiest way to get yourself onto the wrong side of the bubble.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.